Technically Speaking: Will Refs Face NBA Pressure to Bail Out LeCavs?
If you read any of my articles than you know I think their abysmal playoff history, controversies, and lack of parity suggest that it is a joke especially when compared to other rival leagues.
If you hate it so much, then why do you watch?
First off, not only is it already my least favorite sport so it has nowhere to go but up, but this is the first post-season I've watched since 2006 due to new and intriguing teams being in, namely the Magic, Nuggets, and Rockets all with real shots at success.
Consider in the past 20 years there basically have been total dynasties and no real upsets save for the 2006 NBA Finals when unexpecteds Miami Heat knocked off the Dallas Mavericks on their way to a surprising title.
Other than that its basically been six teams to rule the past three decades:
LA Lakers '81, '85, '86, '88, '00, '01, '02
Boston Celtics '80, '84, '86, '08
Detroit Pistons '89, '90, '04
Chicago Bulls '91, '92, '93, '96, '97, '98
San Antonio Spurs '99, '03, '05, '07
Houston Rockets '94, '95
To me, that is damn pathetic and puzzling to say the least.
When the other sports have classic underdog stories including briefly the:
Baseball: 1987+91 Twins, 1991 Braves, 2003 Marlins, 2006 Cards, 2007 Rockies, 2008 Rays,
NHL 1991 North Stars and Penguins, 1994 Rangers, 1996 Panthers (probably the best example), 2002 Hurricanes, 2004 Lightning and Flames, 2006 Oilers and Hurricanes
NFL 1994 Chargers, 1999 Rams and Titans, 2001 Patriots, 2003 Panthers, 2005 Seahawks, 2007 Bears, 2008 Cardinals as some examples
college basketball 1985 Villanova, 2002 Georgia Tech,
Not all these upset teams won the title, but at least they made it-or were "allowed" to make it.
In a league that has no shame
- from the 1985 Patrick Ewing lottery BS where big market New York needed a star and he was the obvious prize of that draft,
- to the literal behind-closed-doors lottery "selection" where they simply reveal the results of the order on national television and not the selection itself
- suspicious Pau Gasol giveaway trade from Memphis to big market LA one year after Kobe requests trade from seemingly vulnerable Lakers leaving NBA marketers in a panic, presumably.
- Commissioner Stern not hiding the fact the NBA is "better" when big markets like Boston are competitive and successful (ie. 2002 NBA playoffs LA Lakers beat Sacramento Kings that still leaves many feeling cheated and that the title the Lakers went on to win, should have really went to Sac-town.
- Steve Javie referee scandals (he's the guy that refereed the controversial Steve Nash-Robert Horry play in the 2007 playoff game that saw star Stoudamire leave the bench and get suspended helping the Spurs win the series. He also was on trial for tax evasion.
- Joe Crawford referee controversies. From the Tim Duncan ghost technical to the 2008 Brent Barry non-call he could be an x-factor later in the series.
- Bennett Salvatore has had controversies.
- But in a league that had Tim Donaghy and his embarrassment of betting scandals are we really that surprised? Does anyone believe for an instant it was really an isolated incident?
Heck, they probably all have but are we really surprised? Javie and Crawford are from Philadelphia and half the people I know think the NBA is run by "the mob" or "out of Vegas" anyway, thus the history of lack of upsets.
A Denver-Orlando matchup in the 2009 Finals would help ease all that, we just have to get their first, provided we can. That is exactly the match up I want to see not only because it features two teams that have never won a title, but its two new, different teams for the sake of variety.
On top of that it would be marketing Hell for the big-market obsessed NBA who'd have to "suffer" through a less than desired series that features no real meal tickets in LeBron and LeCavs and KoMe Bryant and the Lakers.
I could care less about Denver but wouldn't it be nice to look back on a list similar to the list of the then-past 29 champions and see another name added? We could all say "Remember that year when it all came together for them?"
The same with Orlando, although I think their path is much easier in the improving East.
What good is market saturation of having only a few successful markets like boring cowtown San Antonio and flashy Los Angeles or pushy Boston?
Retaliation against Howard coming?
I fully expect the refs to call a "tight" game tonight against the Magic in anticipation of extending the series if at all possible. Pay special attention to Dwight Howard and his five technical fouls in these 2009 playoffs.
As noted after game 3 when he inexplicably picked up a cheap one late in the game, giving him the fifth, he was asked about its potential down the road to which he said:
"I didn't say anything to Joey Crawford. The response was to the other team. I'm not stupid enough to say that to Joey Crawford."
See the latest controversy here with the clean block Howard provided to the NBA's Golden Child (LeBron) which resulted in three free throws.
LeBron, to his credit, did make all three free throws but couldn't hit at least one three when it mattered with his team down by eight with 1:08 to go on Sunday.
Game 6-7 occurrences
Its appears to me that Game 6's and Game 7's are happening all too often in major pro-sports and its not just an NBA problem as they are happening in cash-strapped NHL games too.
What used to be a spectacle and rare is now happening at an alarming rate. What happened to the days of the good old-fashioned beat downs like the '94-95 No. 6 seed Rockets taking down my Magic in the NBA Finals?
While the loss still hurts, at least as a No. 6 seed, it created a new champion in a new market. I wouldn't be surprised if whomever is reffing tonight's game to get a little "cawl" from the NBA offices in New York saying "hey, you might want to extend this one out more, you know, if possible."
In a series where the Magic are clearly the better team, on paper it should be over in 6 just as I predicted. Really it could have ended in a sweep, and LeCavs have shown no ability to hold a lead or defend their home court like the paper champions they are, but Game 5 will be the turning point.
More memorable Van Gundy quotes:
My Coach of the Year could fill a book with his flat honest and un-arguable logical quotes in his post-game press conferences.
When asked what he thought about the Howard foul in game 3 he replied to the reporter:
"You write a column, you write it. They won't fine you like the NBA will fine me $25,000 or whatever it is....suddenly then I'm a whiner."
Not only is that an honest evaluation of exactly what would have happened, but this honest perspective is a breath of fresh air from the constant rhetoric we normally hear from playoff-tested coaches just going through the motions.
SVG also added:
"The Media likes to ask, how could we overcome LeBron's shot? YOU are are so psychological."
Brilliant and true. I feared the worst of the impact of "LeShot."
My boys at least temporarily (and surprisingly) stopped the bleeding. I'll give them that.
Howard and the Magic better hope Dwight maintains his cool because the referees in Cleveland aren't going to cut him any breaks, instead probably will be trigger-happy in dishing out that first technical.
Should Howard get one tonight, even though it is at home, which didn't stop Crawford in game 3, Howard would be expected to go approximately the final three games of this series without so much as a single technical thus limiting both the minutes he'll be able to play and the amount of contact he'll be able to omit.
On top of that, he'll be sequestered from questioning any of the referees calls for fear of picking up that infamous seventh and being suspended from a potential game six or seven whenever that is.
Basically he'd be a 6'11 punching bag unable to rightfully defend himself both in the paint and on the sideline.
In a league that knows no bounds, don't be surprised if the impossible happens.
The Magic have already beat LeCavs 10 out of the past 14 times including 4/6 this year so far.
While a win tonight wouldn't eliminate LeCavs as much as the national media thinks it will (I refuse to count them out until its over due to the "incidents" above) it would be a worse-case scenario for the NBA who can't have that, can they?
That would seem almost....well...fair.
Nah, uncharacteristic, more like it.
If LeCavs are supposed to win, so be it, but I want them to be able to do it legitimately without any underhanded assists from the refs like we've seen in the past.
Hopefully LeShot gets remembered for nothing more than it was, a good, clutch shot from a player whose career is only beginning and who should have many, many more years to earn his title and not have it handed to him by a greedy league willing to continue to script the match ups they want to see and force upon us.
Kobe vs. LeBron version 1 (because I believe the NBA will see to it its not the only time) If its meant to be, let it be.
Just don't act like its already here by cheating the fans of Orlando and Denver by constantly salivating over its niche possibility.
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